Time for concrete plans on social housing. The 32nd Dáil needs to start building – Respond

The Respond Housing charity today called on all TDs elected to the new Dáil to make the delivery of social housing their number 1 priority as they enter negotiations on possible dimensions of a new Government.

Ned Brennan, CEO of Respond said:

“Regardless of who is Taoiseach or what parties make up the new Government, one thing has been clear for some time – that is Ireland is in the midst of a housing crisis so severe we see new families becoming homeless every day.

“All political parties put housing at the centre of their offerings to the electorate. In fact, unlike some other pressing areas of public concern, there is remarkable unity among all political parties on the scale of the problem we face and on the kinds of targets we should set in terms of the delivery of new housing. Ireland needs at least 20,000 new housing units every year to simply cope with demand. Targets are one thing, delivery is another. We need to start building and at scale.”

“All parties are agreed that a major programme of building of social homes needs to take place and most believe that Exchequer funding could be supplemented by innovative social housing bonds or investment by the Strategic Investment Fund”, Mr. Brennan continued. “Housing associations, working in concert with local authorities, have long histories and experience of building quality social housing and communities that last. What we urgently need is a new administrative system that removes the barriers to building, including land availability and a cumbersome, disjointed bureaucracy.”

“The following are pledges are from the manifestos of political parties with a mandate in the new Dáil. I hope that all TDs make social housing a real priority in their upcoming negotiations, with less focus on new top-line targets and more on the day to day delivery of the kind of housing Ireland so urgently needs.

Programme to deliver social housing:

  1. A national register of all land assets in the country.
  2. A Minister for Housing and Planning at full Cabinet level.
  3. A Housing Agency / Authority responsible to the Housing Minister. This Authority would incorporate some land and asset management of NAMA as it winds down.
  4. Restore Part V so that all new developments must have 20% social housing in the mix.
  5. Provide for the public acquisition of private lands by compulsory purchase by the state if necessary.
  6. The state to utilise its 800 vacant sites as identified by the Irish Council for Social Housing.
  7. Expansion of the Vacant Site levy.
  8. A 3 year ‘use it or lose it’ clause in planning permissions.
  9. A national social housing stock retrofit plan with Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland.
  10. Move from the Local Property Tax to a Site Value Tax which would discourage the hoarding of land by developers.
  11. Legislation to address failings in local Traveller accommodation plans
  12. A referendum to enshrine the right to housing in the constitution as part of economic, social and cultural rights.
  13. Investment in exploring new technologies to speed up house delivery

“New housing takes 2-3 years from design to build depending on the project. If we are to build the houses that Ireland requires we cannot wait – we must start now”, Mr. Brennan concluded.